The focus of this study is the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region, which extends over 2,000 km from east to west across the Asian continent spanning several countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The eastern and western areas of the HKH region differ in climate, especially in timing and type of precipitation, and in glacier behavior and dynamics as well.
This report covers three broad areas of knowledge about the Himalayan region: (1) physical geography, (2) human geography and water resources, and (3) environmental risk and security. Chapter 2, Physical Geography, provides an overview of glaciers, followed by a summary of the climate and meteorology of the region within the context of paleoclimate patterns, and descriptions of the regional hydrology and physical hazards. Chapter 3, Human Geography and Water Resources, covers population distribution, poverty and migration, and key natural resource issues of water use, access to water, water scarcity, and water management. Chapter 4, Environmental Risk and Security, presents the Committee’s further analyses of the linkages between physical and human systems, with an emphasis on those that may pose potential instabilities for the region. Chapter 5 presents the Committee’s synthesis of the range of physical and social changes facing the region, a summary of research questions and data needs, and options for adapting to the changes facing the region.
The author of this report is the Committee on Himalayan Glaciers, Hydrology, Climate Change, and Implications for Water Security. Part of the National Research Council, the Committee is overseen by its Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate, in the Division on Earth and Life Sciences. Wescoat was a member of the committee creating the report.